VICTORIA - A resident of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast has delivered a petition signed by more than 21,000 people, demanding more government control of BC Ferries.
Laural Eacott of Powell River said Tuesday in Victoria that rising ferry fares prompted her to start the online petition, noting she can no longer afford to travel to Metro Vancouver or Vancouver Island.
The petition urges the government to shift the quasi-private BC Ferries into the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to help reduce costs and fares.
"It's not working," said Eacott, holding the thick stack of papers tabled at legislature. "It's just so frustrating to hear that fares are going up again. The ridership is just going to keep dropping."
Vicki Huntington, an independent member of the legislature, tabled Eacott's petition.
"B.C.'s ferries are vital to the timely and safe passage of British Columbian and visitor alike," Huntington said.
"They are crucial to our economic well-being and directly link our major road networks. Ferries have become an extension of our highway infrastructure."
Transportation Minister Todd Stone said he respects the concerns of the people who signed the petition, but he's not about to steer BC Ferries back to government.
"The underlying financial challenges have nothing to do with whether it's part of government or not part of government, which is why our vision which I laid out a year ago is focused on a wide array of different measures to get ferries to a place of long-term affordability and sustainability," he said.
BC Ferries was part of the government highway system decades ago before becoming a Crown corporation. Shortly after the Liberals were elected in 2001, it was transformed into a private company that received a taxpayer subsidy.
Ferries fares are scheduled to increase in April.
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